By: Marc Deprey
Last Sunday, my son went into a rage so severe that he assaulted me and destroyed my car’s windows and body with head-sized boulders. He was arrested and taken to Juvenile Hall. It’s the first time I’ve ever been assaulted—by anyone, let alone my own child—and this is his first arrest. My daughter, who is also afflicted with developmental trauma, has been especially reactive this week beyond her usual explosiveness and destructiveness. So the trauma I have been experiencing this week has been so severe that I got sick (my immune system is probably in full retreat) on top of it all. Yesterday, I just gave into reality and cancelled my trip to the Trauma conference.
I really, really wanted to attend this conference. I was to be on the parent panel along with some real seasoned folks talking about the life I didn’t choose, but now live. I wrote the following to read by another parent on the panel—
I’m very sorry I cannot be with you all today. In some strange way it seems fitting that I am unable to participate in this conference’s Parent’s Panel because of the fallout from a traumatic incident with my son.
What I wanted to convey to you when I came down there was that the life of a parent with children of trauma is totally unpredictable. With my kids, I can never know how severe their reactions will be or what will prompt them. Being the parent of a child of trauma is traumatizing, to say the least.
Also, I wanted you all to know that the nature of this affliction flies in the face of the very fabric of civilization itself— a primal aversion to any kind of trust, a complete lack of any frustration tolerance, zero empathy, and the deepest sense of developmental disarray. These kids can revert to early toddler behaviors in a second—tantrums, biting, hitting—but they do it with a teenage body, with the accompanying strength, vocabulary, and intensity—the terrible two’s for a lifetime.
If I had one message to send to you it would be to not judge these children, but try to understand them. The nature of their affliction is to push you away, to disgust you, to hurt you emotionally and sometimes physically. But, deep down they don’t want you to leave them. They want you to heal them. And we as parents of children of trauma have made it our life mission to oblige them, no matter the pain and suffering we need to endure.
It is an epic effort, and those parents who are making it know the price first-hand. What needs to change is that we no longer should be making this effort alone. We deserve understanding, community and family support, and resources that make the journey at least somewhat possible. We, as parents of children of trauma, already accept that this is a very, very hard challenge, but we at least deserve a fighting chance at succeeding, or at least surviving, as one civilized soul trying to save another.